Definition of civet in English:


Line breaks: civet
Pronunciation: /ˈsɪvɪt


(also civet cat)
  • 1A slender nocturnal carnivorous mammal with a barred and spotted coat and well-developed anal scent glands, native to Africa and Asia.
    • Family Viverridae (the civet family): several genera and species. The civet family also includes the genets, linsang, and fossa, and formerly included the mongooses
    More example sentences
    • The main suspect to date is the civet cat, a cat-like mammal closely related to the mongoose.
    • This includes the civet cat which is known to be a carrier of the disease.
    • So it's not a virus that every Himalayan palm civet has always had and is chronically infected with.
  • 1.1 [mass noun] A strong musky perfume obtained from the secretions of the civet’s scent glands.
    More example sentences
    • During the Renaissances strong scents of animal origin, including musk, civet and ambergris, were popular, but by the late 18th century these were consider too strong, too beastly.
    • The secretion of these glands, called civet, is used as a perfume base and medicine..
    • Theatre became less serious and more sensational; the great national concerns gave way to domestic intrigue; the smell of cowslips and violets to musk and civet, if not in reality then in the imagery of the plays.
  • 2US The ring-tailed cat or cacomistle.


mid 16th century: from French civette, from Italian zibetto, from medieval Latin zibethum, from Arabic zabād, denoting the perfume.

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